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21 June, 2024
 
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High-energy biscuits arrive in Gaza amidst criticism of slow delivery

Humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire, exacerbated by Israeli restrictions on land crossings

Source: AP

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) announced on Wednesday that it has recently distributed a limited number of high-energy biscuits in Gaza. These supplies marked the first aid deliveries from a new humanitarian sea route facilitated by a U.S.-built pier. This initiative aims to provide essential relief to Palestinians in desperate need.

The initial shipments, unloaded from the pier on Friday, included a small quantity of biscuits, according to WFP spokesman Steve Taravella. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that a total of 41 trucks carrying aid have reached humanitarian organizations in Gaza from this pier, which cost over $320 million to construct.

Humanitarian organizations report that all 2.3 million residents of Gaza are struggling to obtain food, with the WFP and USAID warning that famine has begun in northern Gaza.

Despite the flow of aid, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan expressed dissatisfaction with the current rate of delivery. "Aid is flowing," Sullivan noted, but he emphasized that the volume was insufficient to meet the urgent needs. This sentiment was echoed by Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, who initially believed that no aid had reached Gaza from the pier. However, Sullivan later confirmed that some aid had been delivered to the Palestinians.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire, exacerbated by Israeli restrictions on land crossings and ongoing conflicts. These conditions have significantly reduced food and fuel deliveries to their lowest levels since the early months of the Israel-Hamas war, which has been ongoing for seven months. The recent Israeli control of the Rafah border crossing, a crucial entry point for supplies, has further strained aid efforts.

Humanitarian organizations report that all 2.3 million residents of Gaza are struggling to obtain food, with the WFP and USAID warning that famine has begun in northern Gaza.

The U.S. pier project, intended to enhance aid delivery via the Mediterranean Sea, faced initial setbacks. During the first aid convoy on Saturday, chaos ensued when crowds overran the convoy, seizing most supplies. A man in the crowd was also shot dead under unclear circumstances, leading to a temporary suspension of aid convoys for two days.

Despite these challenges, trucks carrying aid from the pier arrived at a U.N. warehouse on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, the exact number of trucks reaching the warehouse remains uncertain. The WFP cautioned that without cooperation and clearances from Israeli authorities, the project risks failure.

Humanitarian officials and the U.S. stress that the sea route is not a replacement for traditional land crossings. They have called on Israel to permit a continuous and substantial flow of aid trucks through entry points and to ensure the safety of aid workers amid military operations. While Israel claims there are no restrictions on truck entries, logistical and security challenges continue to hamper effective aid distribution.

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